Green tea helps elderly stay more agile, Japanese study claims
Elderly people who regularly drink green tea may stay more agile and independent than their peers as they age, according to a Japanese study.
Green tea is known to contain antioxidant chemicals that may help ward off the cell damage that can lead to disease. So researchers have been studying drink's effect on everything from cholesterol to the risk of certain cancers – with mixed results.
Japanese researchers found that those who drank the most green tea were the least likely to develop 'functional disability'
For this new study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers decided to examine the question of whether green tea drinkers have a lower risk of frailty and disability as they grow older.
Yasutake Tomata of the Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine and his colleagues followed nearly 14,000 adults aged 65 or older for three years.
They found those who drank the most green tea were the least likely to develop 'functional disability', or problems with daily activities and basic needs, such as dressing or bathing.
Specifically, almost 13 per cent of adults who drank less than a cup of green tea per day became functionally disabled, compared with just over 7 per cent of people who drank at least five cups a day.
Tomata and his colleagues said: 'Green tea consumption is significantly associated with a lower risk of incident functional disability, even after adjustment for possible confounding factors.'
However, the study did not prove that green tea alone kept people spry as they grew older. Green-tea lovers generally also had healthier diets
However, the study did not prove that green tea alone kept people spry as they grew older.
DRINKING GREEN TEA 'IS A LIFESTYLE CHOICE'
Japanese study links green tea to staying agile as you grow older. But
those who drink the hot drink also tend to have a better lifestyle
Healthier diets: Green tea-lovers tend to eat more fish, vegetables and fruitMore educated: Better informed about how to stay healthyLower smoking rates: Which could also account for fewer heart attacks and strokesGreater mental sharpnessMore socially active: With more friends and family to rely on
lovers generally had healthier diets, including more fish, vegetables
and fruit. They also tended to be more educated, have lower smoking
rates, fewer heart attacks and strokes, and greater mental sharpness.
Those who drank green tea were also more likely to be more socially active and have more friends and family to rely on.
But even with those factors accounted for, green tea itself was tied to a lower disability risk, the researchers said.
People who drank at least five cups a day were one-third less likely to develop disabilities than those who had less than a cup per day. Those people who averaged three or four cups a day had a 25 percent lower risk.
Although it's not clear how green tea might offer a buffer against disability, Tomata's team did note that one recent study found green tea extracts seem to boost leg muscle strength in older women.
While green tea and its extracts are considered safe in small amounts, though, they do contain caffeine and small amounts of vitamin K – which could interfere with drugs that prevent blood clotting.